Even when states raise their stay-at-home orders within the coming weeks, workers who’ve been working remotely will not be returning to the identical places of work. To maintain workers secure whereas the coronavirus continues to be a menace, places of work might want to look and function very in another way than they did earlier than March.
First, corporations might want to implement social distancing measures — maybe by encouraging employees to navigate the workplace in a single path, use single-use desk mats and preserve at the very least 6 toes aside always. However along with altering worker conduct, corporations can also have to rethink the bodily design, structure and use of their workplace areas.
“It’s not going to be so simple as rearranging the furnishings and handing out bottles of sanitizer,” mentioned Clay Edwards, govt vp at Skender, a Chicago-based development agency that’s consulting with purchasers on renovations to advertise wholesome distancing. “In case you’re going to ask them to come back into the workplace, workers have to really feel secure. That most likely means bodily renovations. The stay-at-home extension provides companies further time to make updates with out disruption.”
In a ballot of attendees in a recent Bisnow webinar, 23% of Chicago workplace decision-makers anticipated they might require workplace renovations or updates as a way to assist preserve employees secure from the coronavirus, whereas 20% mentioned they’re planning to renovate their places of work throughout the subsequent 18 months. Listed below are 5 areas Edwards thinks would be the most important for corporations to rethink:
1. Reception and Entryways
To make entrances welcoming, open-plan office designers usually eschewed bodily boundaries between the skin and the workspace, or did away with reception areas totally. However now, corporations might wish to put up just a few boundaries.
“Reception nonetheless must be welcoming, nevertheless it additionally has to function a reminder that past this level, folks need to play by the brand new guidelines,” Edwards mentioned.
Having a separate designated room for deliveries and one other for guests may additionally assist with distancing. The reception space will even doubtless grow to be a spot for workers to sanitize their arms, decide up any gear they want for the day, like a disposable desk mat, or have their temperatures taken earlier than they’re allowed to enter.
Putting in glass partitions can preserve visible connectivity whereas decreasing the hazard that pathogens will drift in from exterior the workplace. Edwards additionally urged including keycard-operated automated doorways, which scale back the necessity for workers to the touch shared surfaces.
2. Meals Storage and Break Areas
Typically, the closest contact workers have with each other is once they go away their desks to eat lunch or pour themselves a cup of espresso. A crowded, chatting lunch desk may flip right into a worrisome spot for virus transmission.
Dividing up massive break areas and monitoring how they’re accessed can preserve workers safely distanced. Edwards additionally urged putting in smaller pantry areas with microwaves, small fridges and occasional machines all through the workplace to maintain workers from congregating in a single spot.
three. Audiovisual Gear
“When places of work reopen, everybody can’t come speeding again in,” Edwards mentioned. “Distant work and digital collaboration will doubtless keep the norm for nearly half of workers when places of work open their doorways.”
Having the instruments to advertise digital work, together with wall-mounted displays and cameras in convention rooms, can facilitate extra pure collaboration. Throughout a Bisnow webinar, 23% of Chicago workplace decision-makers mentioned they have been planning on investing in additional audiovisual gear.
With so a lot of their colleagues working remotely, workers can also rely extra closely on enclosed workspaces and small convention rooms to take calls. Constructing out a brand new row of telephone cubicles can serve a double objective of boosting collaboration and well being, Edwards mentioned.
four. Lighting and HVAC
Places of work ought to already be geared up with HEPA filters all through their heating and cooling gear, however Edwards mentioned corporations can take additional steps. By putting in ultraviolet lights inside HVAC programs, places of work can reduce airborne pathogens all through the workplace.
Because the distance that coronavirus particles can journey via the air is still a subject of debate, it might even be efficient to put in UV lighting in extremely trafficked areas like entrances and corners. In some places of work, this can be so simple as changing just a few bulbs, Edwards mentioned, however in others, it may contain totally new fixtures.
“Luckily, these types of modifications will keep helpful past the coronavirus period,” he mentioned. “Bettering air high quality is a big element of many workplace wellness programs.”
5. Open Workplace, Benching and Bullpens
The obvious change places of work have to make can be probably the most essential — ensuring workers are adequately unfold out.
Most of the benching programs that open offices depend on can merely be damaged up and spaced out 6 toes aside, however some places of work might have a heavier raise to accommodate their wants, both via setting up new dividers between desks or changing outdated shared areas into work pods that area out workers.
Whereas 30% of attendees to the above Chicago office webinar anticipated they would want much less workplace area sooner or later — both due to a decrease headcount or distant work insurance policies — 13% anticipated they would want more room to permit workers to unfold out, and 13% plan to spend money on extra personal places of work.
No matter answer corporations select, Edwards mentioned, they need to make the supplies resilient and straightforward to scrub each day.
“We shouldn’t anticipate these to be simply non permanent fixes,” Edwards mentioned. “Firms ought to undertake the renovation work that they suppose can carry them previous this disaster, not simply via it.”
This function was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content material and Skender. Bisnow information employees was not concerned within the manufacturing of this content material.